Customer creation, conversion, & SEO: an interview with Brian Massey

Today we’re delighted to share with you our most recent chat with Brian Massey, “The Conversion Scientist.”

Brian has been busy since last year’s interview – namely, he has written a new book that is soon to be released: Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.

Here’s what Brian has to say about the book, the inspiration behind it, as well as where SEO and search fit into the customer creation/conversion scheme of things…

So you have a new book coming out soon: “Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.”  Would you describe for us what it is about?

The book takes the reader through the same “sermon” I’ve given over and over again to my clients. There are about three things that you should be doing to grow your online business.

What those three things are depends on what kind of site you should be running: a Brochure, Publication, Online Store, Consultative Site, or Online Service.

I help you pick a site formula, define the strategies that will make you successful, and then give you some best practices on how to implement those strategies.

By the end of the book your Web team will know the formula – their Customer Creation Equation – that drives leads, sales and subscribers.

What more could you ask from a quick read like this book?

What inspired you to write it?

For most of 2011, I spent my Fridays on the phone with businesses of all sizes from all industries offering free advice to help them improve their online business. Many of these became clients. Almost all of them left with a fresh and exciting view of their Website.

After explaining the basics of conversion over 100 times, I thought it might be helpful to write it down in a tell-all book. I’ve gotten too busy to spend my Fridays with businesses in this way, unfortunately.

This was the genesis of “Your Customer Creation Equation.” The message is familiar to anyone who was on one of those calls with me: Your Website is a service, not a brochure.

You can “listen” to your visitors through your site and stop guessing about how to invest online. Your online business must be growing or your business will atrophy.

Most of those I spent my Fridays with were the managers and business owners, not always practitioners. This book is really written for the person who needs to be sure their Web team is doing things right… right for the business.

Without being a spoiler, what would you say is the primary message of the book?

I believe in sharing everything, so I’m not worried about spoilers. The main message of the book is “Watch your online customers as closely as you watch those coming into your store.” While we can’t “see” our customers online, we actually can see their behaviors much better than in a brick-and-mortar setting.

As a business owner or marketing manager, you must get comfortable with the tools that tell you how to manage your online business. Otherwise, your competition will take your online customer.

In most industries, the business that doesn’t master their online formula will wither and die.

Who should read it? Did you have a specific audience in mind?

I wrote the book for anyone managing the creation and maintenance of a business website: marketers, business owners and consultants. 

Chapter 12 of the book is “Advanced Curriculum in Visitor Studies”, which tells you how to create personas of your ideal visitors.

As it turns out, I have four personas for the book:

The book was written for Darryl, the owner of a $12 million insurance broker. He’s savvy enough to know his business will die if he doesn’t win online.

It was written for Charlene, the marketing communications person at a major technology company. She needs a formula to help focus the company’s shotgun marketing approach and add some measurability.

It was written for Herman, the account manager at a mid-sized SEO firm who needs his customers to understand how to capitalize on the traffic his company sends them.

It was written for Javid who runs an apparel ecommerce site. He needs to differentiate himself from larger, better-funded competitors with significant brand awareness. He knows he needs to learn faster than them and acquire customers cheaper.

If you relate to one of these personas, I recommend becoming a “Friend of the Author” for free chapters and bonus material: CustomerCreationEquation.

Where do you see SEO & search fitting into the customer creation/conversion equation?

Your website conversion rate is a fraction. It is the number of new customers or prospects divided by the total number of visitors. Clearly, if you have a lot of visitors coming who don’t become customers or prospects, your conversion rate (and your business) will suffer.

Search and SEO are critical, as they tend to bring visitors who are trying to solve a problem. This is highly qualified traffic as opposed to the crappy traffic you get from StumbleUpon, for example. My conversion rate plunges every time one of my stories gets stumbled.

SEO and Search traffic is superior to social media traffic. It is superior to display ad traffic. The only traffic sources I prize more are email clicks and retargeting ads. Both, by definition, are already familiar with your brand.

Of course, no traffic source will be successful if you don’t have a formula for bringing these visitors into your site and for getting them to act.

You touched on this in our first interview, but could you elaborate on how “The Conversion Scientist” handle/brand came about? 

I’m formally trained as a Computer Scientist, but went into the sales and marketing game early in my career. In 2003 I created an open source analytics package that I used as a corporate marketer until Google Analytics came along.

When I decided to start my own practice, there wasn’t a good title for someone with my skills, experiences and neuroses, so I had to invent one. I became “The Conversion Scientist.”

The lab coat wasn’t far behind.

It really is accurate. As you will learn from the book, the scientific method is a part of everything we do. We are the most accountable marketing consultants you’ll ever find.

Why do you think online marketing is so difficult?

Online marketing is difficult because there are thousands of ways to do it. There’s email, content marketing, social media, blogs, SEO, PPC, search, display ads, remarketing, retargeting, enewsletters, online video, ratings and reviews, etc.

For each of these, there is an expert telling you that their way is best.

What should YOUR business invest in? How would you know with so many opinions crowding your mind? How does a general business person or marketer make such decisions about often advanced online technologies?

You’ve got to know your numbers. You’ve got to know how to know what works. Then you do that over and over and stop doing the things that fizzle.

This is the only way. Make a hypothesis, figure out a way to test it, test it, and then look at the results objectively. You will find your magical recipe and profit in the process.


About Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist

Brian Massey is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences and he has the lab coat to prove it. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses was developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, national speaker and writer.

He has developed workshops for professional organizations such as the Direct Marketing Association and Webmaster World, and is a frequent guest on webinars focusing on online marketing and conversion.

Brian is the author of the book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.  He authors The Conversion Scientist, and is a columnist for ClickZ, Search Engine Land and the Content Marketing Institute. He lives and works in Austin, Texas, where life and the Internet are hopelessly entwined.

photo thanks to Contadini (John Leslie)

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3 replies
  1. Heather Georgoudiou says:

    Great interview, Laura. We really do have to know our customer and analytics give us amazing insight. Nice job.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Heather! Yes, Brian is spot on with his approach, and his message parallels that of Heather Lloyd’s when it comes to analytics & a well-honed customer persona. Glad you enjoyed the interview :)

  2. Mark Weyland says:

    A must read for any online marketer or any company with their own website. A special thanks to Laura for posting this blog and I am sure it will help many others, like me, once they read it.

    I am thoroughly eager to read this book, after what Brian stated to be the core message of the book, “Watch your online customers as closely as you watch those coming into your store.”

    I agree with the fact that proper knowledge about the various tools that help you to know your customers is a must. If you remain in the dark about such tools, then you will lose out to your competitors in the long run.


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